The best compliment I ever got was from a guy I don’t even remember the name of.
We were playing charades at a mutual friend’s housewarming party. When the game ended, he told me he liked how my mind worked.
The compliment stayed with me because it wasn’t just flattering; it was genuine. The guy didn’t have a hidden agenda.
He didn’t continue by hitting on me or asking for a favor. He made an observation and walked away.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as authentic.
Some people butter you up because they want something from you, especially if they shower you with compliments immediately after you’ve met.
Learning to identify them will save you a ton of frustration in the long run.
Here are 12 phrases fake people use to flatter and deceive you.
Cutting out the phonies is the first step toward building more meaningful connections.
1) “You’re a genius!”
If someone praises your intellect after barely exchanging a few words, they want something.
After all, you don’t call someone you don’t know well a genius unless there’s a specific agenda in play.
Be cautious and consider their underlying intentions.
Do they want you to help them with something? Solve a problem for them? Validate their actions?
Whatever it may be, it’s best to keep your radar on high alert.
2) “Your outfit is impeccable, you obviously have great taste!”
There are situations where this is a genuine compliment if it comes from a bona fide stranger, but those situations are limited to the girls’ bathroom at the club.
(Some of the best fashion-related compliments I ever got were from drunk girls reapplying their lipstick.)
In most contexts, however, receiving such lavish praise from someone you barely know should raise suspicion about their true intentions.
Even if you’re outfit is, indeed, on point.
3) “You’re so brave for speaking your mind.”
If you just said something inspiring and someone praises you for speaking up, they mean it.
In most cases, though, the compliment is used as a smokescreen to downplay your perspective or manipulate the conversation, making it a clear example of insincere flattery.
- When a colleague praises your outspokenness in a meeting after you’ve voiced a dissenting opinion, they might be trying to undermine your viewpoint
- If a family member who has consistently disagreed with you suddenly commends your bravery for speaking your mind during a heated argument, they might be attempting to deflect from the argument itself
- When someone you’ve never met applauds your outspokenness on social media platforms, it could be a veiled attempt to provoke further arguments or gain attention
- If you’re in the midst of a political debate, someone could laud your courage for expressing your beliefs in order to downplay your arguments
Don’t let yourself be fooled.
4) “You’re the most interesting person I know.”
If your best friend or partner says this, great!
If a stranger says this after talking to you for 10 minutes, they don’t mean it.
They might, however, follow this up by asking you to do something for them.
Perhaps introduce them to your equally interesting friends?
5) “You’re so kind and generous!”
Situations when this compliment is genuine:
- When you assist a stranger in need, and they express their gratitude
- When you’re consistently there for a friend during tough times, offering emotional support, and they thank you for it
- When you donate to a charitable cause or participate in volunteer work
- When you share your time, resources, and knowledge with a loved one
Situations when it’s not: when someone asks you to borrow money immediately after.
6) “You’re always right, aren’t you?”
If someone utters this phrase in the middle of an argument, they’re not only buttering you up.
They’re also mocking your ego.
Don’t fall for their childish scheme.
7) “You’re the life of the party!”
When someone praises your social skills despite barely knowing you, it might be a tactic to manipulate you.
They may be seeking your attention, hoping to draw you into their plans, or trying to get you to do something you wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Or, they might offer this compliment as a way to create a positive impression.
By praising your party skills, they hope to gain your trust and possibly leverage your influence or resources in the future.
8) “You look amazing, even without makeup!”
Translation: You look terrible with makeup.
9) “You’re such a great friend, unlike others.”
This may seem like a genuine compliment, but the person is subtly throwing shade at your other friends.
It’s always important to be wary of compliments that involve comparisons.
Truly authentic people don’t feel the need to put others down to shine.
10) “You’re so much better than me at this!”
I had a colleague back in the day who wasn’t the hardest worker, to say the least.
He was constantly trying to get out of projects, do as little as possible, and even trick others into doing his job for him.
When attempting the latter, he would start the conversation by complimenting his target on their impeccable work ethic or abilities.
Then, he would complain about how difficult his task was and how much he could benefit from a helping hand.
Before you knew it, the unsuspecting colleague did the task for him as he kept chatting them up with flattering remarks.
To be honest, I admired his skill. He was so smooth you didn’t realize what was happening until the task was done, and he was walking back to his desk, a smug smile plastered on his face.
Just because you’re better at something than someone else doesn’t mean you have to do the thing for them.
Keep that in mind.
11) “You have such a unique sense of style!”
If you’re a sharp dresser, you’ve probably heard this compliment a few times in your life.
You can tell it’s sincere if the person who compliments you includes specific details about what they appreciate in your style and if they have a warm and friendly tone.
But if it comes from someone who boasts an insincere smile and raises an eyebrow, it’s a way for them to convey the fact that they would never wear what you’re wearing.
You obviously shouldn’t have left the house looking like that.
12) “You’re the only one who understands me.”
Depending on the context, this phrase can be less a compliment and more a form of emotional manipulation.
The person may be trying to create a sense of emotional dependency, making you feel special and unique.
Once they accomplish that, they attempt to manipulate your feelings or actions to their advantage.
They might also be trying to make you feel guilty if you don’t meet their needs or fulfill their requests.
Trust your gut.
Deep down, you know whether the person who says this means it or not.
If someone close to you utters the phrases above, they’re probably being honest.
But if you hear them from a casual acquaintance or someone you’ve just been introduced to, keep your guard up.
This person is sweet-talking you for a reason.